Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Autumn Cruise - Day 5

We knew we didn't have far to go today, so we had a relaxed start to the day.  Even so, we were away by 8.45, on a lovely autumnal morning -- blue skies, bright sunshine, but a nip in the air.

Yesterday afternoon, we had to keep going up locks because there was no-where to moor.  Typically, this morning we found that if we'd gone up one more (or two, even) there were great mooring places.  Above the three Seabrook Locks is a swing bridge.  A single-hander was waiting the other side, and asked if he could sneak through while we had the bridge open.  He was even happier to see that the gates of the lock had swung open ready for him.

We passed busy little basins at Pitstone Wharf and Cooks Wharf, then negotiated a long line of fishermen.  There was even a fisherman on the landing at the next lock.  At the two Marsworth Locks before the junction, there was a little day boat from Grebe Cruises at Pitstone Wharf.  The young couple were being helped by a woman from a private boat, which was waiting for them in the next lock up.  They needed a hand because they had absolutley no idea what to do, and hadn't been given any instructions beyond a diagram.  Once they were through, Adrian turned the lock so we could go up.  The next lock also needed turning, but a family of swans took the opportunity of an easy ride down.

At Marsworth Junction we stopped on the services and filled the water tank to the brim.  I love junctions, but this one isn't the most attractive.  The BW office is closed and the area is due to be redeveloped, which has caused some controversy.  I hope they build something suitable here.

Once we'd filled the tank, we moved over to the other side of the canal and moored on the visitor spaces.  We did a circular walke taking in the village, where we admired the church and the older houses, and the start of the Aylesbury Arm, which begins with a narrow staircase lock.  Even though we're ahead of schedule, we haven't been able to find enough time to do the Aylesbury Arm -- the tide times on the Thames dicate which day we need to do that part of the journey.  However, I'm sure we'll be back down this way before long.

After an early lunch, we headed up the remaining seven Marsworth locks.  This section of canal is incredibly twisty.  We had to turn the first five locks, which I worked, then when Adrian had taken over the lock work we met a single hander comingi down with two boats breasted up.  Even with Adrian's help the lock seemed to take ages, not helped by him getting a bit stuck on the way out of the lock because of the multitude of fenders he had out.

For a lover of juntions, today was a good day, as Bulbourne Junction is immediately after the top lock.  The Wendover Arm leaves the main line to the right, next to an impressive junction house.  A widebeam trip boat came towards us as we left the lock, so our turn into the arm gave them something to photograph.

The Wendover Arm is very shallow, so it was slow going.  It's also surprisingly industrial, with a huge flour mill.

But it's soon out into the countryside, narrow and twisty, before you get to the current limit of navigation, a large winding hole.  We turned and moored up -- we're on a bend  because there isn't much that's not on a bend.  This evening, we plan to take up a recommendation of Neil from Herbie, who commented the other day about the food at the Angler's Retreat in Marsworth.  We'll take the footpaths round the reservoirs to get to the pub, which is just a mile away.

5 miles, 12 locks.  (68 miles, 48 locks)

1 comment:

Neil Corbett said...

I hope the Anglers does justice to my recommendation!

When we go up the Wendover arm it always feels like going uphill as you approach the pumping station. Did you get that feeling?